Daily Debriefing

by Grace Afsari-Mamagani | 11/23/09 11:00pm

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating complaints of discrimination against female cadets at the state-run Virginia Military Institute, according to The Boston Globe. Twelve years after women won the right to attend the institution, federal investigators are examining accusations that the institution's policies are sexist. An Education Department complaint filed in June 2008, for example, alleges that language used about women in the barracks reflects a derogatory attitude and hostility towards female cadets. The department is also investigating VMI promotion policies. Although female students still represent only a small fraction of the population at the institute, applications from women have doubled over the past six years, and many female cadets told The Globe they were surprised to hear of the complaints.

In the face of shrinking budgets, university libraries are implementing creative measures to preserve students' access to resources, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. As current budget shortages are likely continue, many librarians have implemented long-term cost-cutting measures, The Chronicle reported. Librarians are looking to form coalitions, for example, to act as repositories of print copies of books, thereby saving individual libraries the space and funding needed to maintain large print collections. One such potential coalition, the Western Region Storage Trust, is working to establish a "shared print repository infrastructure" for the western part of the country. Collective print management strategies designed to respond to tightening budgets, however, could result in a loss of easily accessible information in tangible, print form, Ontario Council of University Libraries President Bernard Reilly told The Chronicle.

The White House is seeking help from various companies and nonprofit organizations to help spark students' interest in mathematics, science and technology, The New York Times reported on Sunday. The initiative, "Educate to Innovate," aims to encourage outside-of-classroom activities and programs for middle and high school students to inspire them to pursue the three fields. The non-fiction media company Discovery Communications, for example, intends to devote two hours of programming six days a week to science content aimed at middle school students, chief executive David Zaslav told The Times. Similarly, the makers of Sesame Street will focus on science and its applications to daily life. Critics, including Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research, argue that the plan does little to solve the fundamental problem of ineffective teaching, but agree the program's success could motivate reforms in the educational system.

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